Strategic Human Capital Insights

Human Asset Management: Are You Ready to Meet the Busyness Challenge?

Failure crisis concept and lost business career education opportunity. Lonely young man on a rock cliff island surrounded by an ocean storm wavesThis is part 3 of our blog series on Human Asset & Performance Management. Click here to read the previous blogs in the series.

For as long as we have had the modern organization, employees and managers have said, “We are too busy – we need more help’!  In my 30+ years of working in and advising organizations, that statement is a common thread.

As we enter that ‘special’ time of year on the corporate calendar known as ‘performance review time’, I ask you to incorporate the ‘Busyness Challenge’ into your review process.

What is the ‘Busyness Challenge’?  It’s all about human capital (employees), human capital resource capacity, human capital resource planning and human capital resource forecasting.  Otherwise known as Human Asset Management Strategy© (HAMS).

Never Mistake ‘Busyness’ for Achievement

To incorporate the ‘Busyness Challenge’ into your review process, start with the role benchmark. A role benchmark begins when you, the manager / leader:

1. Defines the ideal role that is driven by and aligned to your business strategy for: Define the

  Role responsibilities – What the role must deliver

  Role competencies – How the deliverables are achieved

Technical Competencies / Skills: Today, we all need specific technical skills

Business Acumen Competency / Skills: Understanding the business of the business

Organization Competency / Skills: Those elusive ‘soft / human’ skills required for today’s jobs that defines not only that the job gets done but how the job gets done within the business context.

Here’s an example: If you ask an employee what impact their work has on the organization or why are they doing what they are doing, and you get an answer that is less than optimal, then you have a role benchmarking issue.

2. Defines the role benchmark – not the employee Define the role benchmark – not the employee. 

Don’t evaluate the role by the capabilities of the current person in the role.  This is a subtle but dramatic shift in how we look at role and resource capacity.  By defining the role by the current employee, you are allowing the person to define the job according to their preferences, rather than the role benchmark defining the role.  The role benchmark will determine the ideal level of proficiency that all employees in the role must achieve.  The role benchmarking process is a leader-led not employee-led function.  We often get this step backward.  Getting this wrong will forever keep you in the ‘Busyness’ Syndrome.

3. Objectively evaluates employees against the complete role benchmark. Beware of your own biases and manager excuses (this will be the hardest part).

In this evaluation process, you must be ruthlessly honest in evaluating three key questions that directly impact the ‘Busyness Challenge’.

The 3 ‘Busyness Challenge’ Questions:

  1. Knowledge: Does the person have the full and required competencies / skills to do the job at:
    1. 100% of Benchmark?
    2. With Sustainability, Repeatability and Reliability?
    3. By Themselves?
  2. Accountable: Is the person 100% accountable and reliable to colleagues both within the group and to other groups to deliver work / projects on time?
  3. Confident: Is the person confident and secure in their knowledge to deliver the job within a defined, normal timeframe?

If the answers to any of the above questions are an honest NO or Maybe, the person may very well be working at subpar levels. This employee may be handicapped by a lack of required knowledge and / or confidence levels needed to deliver, which will have a direct impact on accountability. This handicap requires the employee to work harder, longer and often utilizing other employees to get the job done resulting in the appearance of being BUSY. But BUSY is not the metric. Knowledge, accountability and confidence are. Don’t let yourself say, “My people are smart and they are busy, but we need additional resources”. A deep dive into what is really going on with people as they are evaluated against the role benchmark will identify how the resources are working and what you, as a manager, will need to do to maximize the current employees you have. Once you have all employees attain benchmark productivity, then you can truly evaluate if you need more resources.

‘Busyness Challenge’ Consequences

Anything less than an Absolute YES to any of the ‘Busyness Challenge’ questions will directly impact productivity, time, perceived vs. real need for extra resources and business results. If we use ‘busyness’ as the metric, we are evaluating the wrong thing. Often, your extra resources are hidden in plain sight – in excess employee potential which yields increased capacity.

Instead of more resources, it may be time to think about upskilling and developing your current employees to meet the role benchmarks as you define them.  You may not need more resources.  You may need to re-evaluate the ability and capability of your current team. ‘Busyness’ is often a symptom of an underlying employee development issue. It is the responsibility of the manager to determine when new resources are actually required or when current employees need to be upskilled when evaluated against the benchmark. Hiring in and tolerating underperforming people resources – human capital – is simply poor management.

How Long Can Your Organization Tolerate ‘Busyness’? 

For this year’s review cycle, let’s shift paradigms and use a new way to evaluate employees. Use this review time as the valuable management and employee development tool it can be. Your employees and your company will thank you for the effort.   


We invite you to download our latest eBook: "Human Asset Management Strategy: A New Approach", which provides a multifunctional operational guide to human capital capacity planning. You can also schedule a complimentary assessment with a member of our team.

Download Your Digital Copy


Topics: Human Asset Management

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

Joanne T. Flynn heads up the human capital advisory group, Phoenix Strategic Performance, Inc. Previously, she was a Managing Director with Phoenix Group International and was Vice President / Director of Global Learning and Development at Goldman, Sachs for nine years. Joanne works with organizations as they face global growth and competitive challenges. She works with her clients to be both externally focused and internally responsive. With her unique background, she aligns competitive strategic efforts with related internal organizational leadership challenges. With the benefit of her career-long focus, Joanne contributes the unique insight of aligning strategy to internal organizational structure and process. She focuses on human capital relative to strategic initiatives, accelerated business growth, value creation, and business development. Joanne holds a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from the University of Oklahoma. In addition, she holds a double degree major in History and German from St. Elizabeth University, as well as certificates from a variety of leading universities and professional training and development organizations. Joanne has recently published her latest book, Accelerating Business Success, The Human Asset Management Strategy.

Subscribe to Updates

Recent Posts

Download the Human Asset Management Strategy eBook

Human Asset Management eBook

Download Your Digital Copy